And so it came to pass that the multi-millionaires walked all over the Premier League wannabes once again.
Some may argue the sheer weight of such a scoreline was somewhat unjustified considering Latics’ first half performance, and I would tend to agree with them, but then I am a Wigan supporter. As such, I have been subjected to torture much worse than this in the past twelve months to the extent I’ve become numb to it all.
On the positive side, for thirty minutes Latics actually competed and, were it not for a lack of creativity and cutting edge in the final third, could have emerged with at least a goal or two for their troubles.
It wouldn’t have been enough, though, because it seemed the Champions could walk all over Little Wigan any time they wanted. Had this Chelsea side hit their straps earlier in the piece, things can be much worse. I reckon we ought to be grateful for that, because we were ultimately up against a far better team that’s been moulded over the course of many years of careful planning and flamboyant investment.
The likes of Malouda, Anelka and Drogba –the latter of whom somehow managed not to get on the scoresheet– were a class apart, recovering from a slowish start (by their standards, anyway) to lay the smackdown on our sorry bee-hinds. Yossi Benayoun capped it all with a late finish to continue the ‘always scores against Wigan’ theme we’ve already got going on this campaign.
So we were out of our league yesterday, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we don’t deserve our place in the Premier League, no matter how many ‘pundits’ brand us a disgrace. Sure, it’s looking like another season of terrible batterings and one of the worst goal differences in the league. The simple fact of the matter is that a seventeenth place finish will keep Wigan in the Prem for another year, and that’s the way it’s been for as long as I can remember.
It’s just a question of whether Martinez can get things together in time to save himself from a fan-led revolt and ultimately kick start the operation some sixteen months into his reign. From a personal perspective, the best way to do this would be to adapt your strategy according to the opposition, being entirely flexible to match situations and, most of all, sticking the ball in the net.
At the moment, I can’t see us doing any of that. We’ve got a goalkeeper bang out of form and struggling to communicate with the guys in front of him, a backline that at times looks like it’s playing musical statues and a centre forward who can do nothing but head the ball straight at the goalkeeper. As Roberto would be quick to point out, though, there were one or two positives that should be taken from the encounter. At the very least it was a marked improvement over the Blackpool game, and though we capitulated rather horribly after the second goal went in, which isn’t really anything new to Latics fans, there are at least some signs certain players want to actually do something to earn their (likely extortionate) wages.
Most of all, I would ask Martinez to loosen up and try a few things out. Don’t be afraid to get the long throws in the box for the likes of Alcaraz and Diame to cause problems. Ruffle a few feathers with the odd bit of physical play. Get it up to the front men every once in a while. That’s how you prosper as a small club in the Premier League – just look at Stoke, Birmingham and even Wigan Athletic of a few years ago. Maybe Roberto has this up his sleeve as an absolute last resort, but I haven’t seen much of it so far.
Wonder how long it’ll be before things click into place? If they don’t within couple of months, I fear the burden of pressure would be too much for Bob or his eventual successor, should it come to that. Whelan may not have an itchy trigger finger just yet, but I hope for all our sakes things start to click very soon otherwise, come Christmas, we may find ourselves in one whole heap o’ trouble.
Next for Roberto’s men is Hartlepool on Tuesday night. Don’t be surprised if we see a whole load of first-teamers get a full 90 minutes because it looks like they need it. With a bit of luck and adequate preparation, it might just be the kick up the backside that propels us to greater things, starting with a draw against Tottenham next weekend. Come on!